(Actors (from left) Natalie Culmore, Jeremy Burke, Hope Forman, Natalie Worsley and Dylan Iannicello, all cast as Nat, performing at Extension-Korda Summer Session’s TBA Variety Show at Kordazone Theatre in Windsor, ON, on Saturday, July 27, 2019. Photo above by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.)
Five actors, all ironically having roles of the same name, Nat, took over the stage at KordaZone Theatre Saturday night in a courageous attempt to fight the dog days of summer. Given the talent at their disposal, and four special guests, the dog days might as well have waved a white flag. It was clear from the start they would have no chance up against an eclectic mix of music, improv comedy and derring-do that marks a first for the local theatre company.
Extension-Korda Summer Session, the group behind the evening’s entertainment, called the whole shindig its TBA Variety Show and there was absolutely no lack of variety. If nothing else, the whole 75 minutes of rapid segments, or bits as they were called, showed the influence both old standards – as in a number so Cab Callowayish, Cab could have actually done it all himself – and new stuff torn from London’s famed East End, has on the youthful actors. In fact, Nat, played by Natalie Culmone, home after a stint in London took to entertaining with a song from the popular musical Waitress.
Much of the program involved audience participation, including a skit using text from their phones. Nat, Culmone again, sang two songs using the text. The audience also determined the genre of the song and the type of music her accompanier, guitarist Nat, in the form of Dylan Iannicello, would need to play. Jazz and country were selected, causing Nat to breathe a sigh of relief, given he admitted to an ability to play both genres.
Some of the music came from past Korda productions, including a number in which the audience helped alter the opening lines of the signature song from the company’s successful run of Reefer Madness. Audience members called out verbs, nouns, or adjectives to fill in blank parts in the composition.
First to take the stage as special guests were Tracey B. Atin and Bob Godden playing the role, not of Nats, but folk singers reprising the first song they sang together many years ago.
Next special guest was Erin Gasparini. Backed by her brother Aaron, music director of Reefer Madness, she performed her rendition of Sister Golden Hair. It was at that point, the dogs knew they were done in, totally no match for Gasparini’s singing talent.
Deering-do bits were interspersed into the affair. Nat, played convincingly by Natalie Worsley, took to juggling. When she lost a ball, the intrepid actor continued entertaining as a two-ball juggler. Nat, played by Jeremy Burke, took on the role of a contortionist – something apparently no one had ever accused him of being – and set to stuffing himself into boxes of different sizes despite some in the audience doubting such feats were even doable.
As the evening was drawing to a close, and the dogs had left the building, Nat and Nat (Burke and Hope Forman) performed a song from Les Misérables in which audience members were given water pistols. As a precaution, not to warp the stage, a plastic tarpaulin was set down. Armed with their pistols, it was very clear these members of the audience were taking their best shots. If nothing else, it seemed water in the singer’s eyes was the greatest complication.
Oh, and that tarp, Nat (Culmore) pointed out that it really didn’t do much.
Korda founder Tracey B. Atin told Eyes on Windsor of how proud she was of this unprecedented evening. It was an opportunity, she explained, for the actors to take risks, which they did, “to find out for themselves what works and what doesn’t.” Oddly, everything they did seemed to work.
Next month four of the Nats will take to leading Extension-Korda’s Summer Day Camp Program. Which will involve Burke, Forman, Iannicello, Worsley and Gemma Cunial. Theatre camp will run through August starting on the 12.
Details can be found at kordazone.com/kordazone/current-show.html
Article by Robert Tuomi
For over a decade, Robert has covered local news and community events. Initially as a contributor to CBC Radio’s local morning show and then as the long-time producer and host of CJAM’s The Rest of the News and as a journalist at the Windsor Square. A graduate of the Nikon School of Photography he enjoys illustrating his reports with what he sees through his camera’s lens.